Other Than The Other Side

March 17, 2013

Psychoanalysis and Its Conjurations

Charles Stivale, commenting on structuralism and psychoanalysis, once observed:
Structuralism cannot be separated from a new transcendental philosophy in which the sites prevail over whatever fills them. Father, mother, etc. are first of all sites in a structure; and if we are mortal, it is by moving into the line, by coming to a particular site, marked in the structure following this topological order of proximities (even when we do so ahead of our turn).”[1]
Deleuze and Guattari are more straightforward while giving psychoanalysis its due:
Psychoanalysis undoes them (myth and tragedy) as objective representations, and discovers in them the figures of a subjective universal libido; but it reanimates them, and promotes them as subjective representations that extend the mythic and tragic contents to infinity….Oedipus is the fallen despot—banished, deterritorialized—but a reterritorialization is engineered, using the Oedipus complex conceived of as the daddy-mommy-me of today’s everyman.”[2]
A reterritorialized existence is here correlated to the somewhat “lesser dangerous symptoms of psychosis” of today’s everyman.[3] Teresa Brennan in her work History After Lacan tersely observes: “One of the lesser symptoms of psychosis, like neurosis, is the inability to concentrate for very long, to constitute memories in a temporal sequence or to follow an argument.”[4] Seemingly, this succinctly describes the kind of subjective existence in modernity; rightly put—the “psychotic era” (as Brennan emphasized). One of the objective symptoms of this era is its fixation on subject-object schema that Deleuze and Guattari attempt to replace with the subject-concept schema or what they associate with “diagram.”
Diagram in turn is associated with “lines of flight” and “absolute deterritorialization.”[5] Diagram deterritorializes “presignifying regime”[6] or what can amount to “topological proximities” (Stivale) into which the subject comes if only to freely express its subjectification to certain “proceedings and assignations of subjects in language.”[7] “In this sense, psychoanalysis, with its mixed semiotics, fully participates in a line of subjectification.”[8] Thus echoing their critique of psychoanalytic ‘tracing’ or its topological redundancy, Deleuze and Guattari further assert, “The psychoanalyst does not have to speak anymore, the analysand assumes the burden of interpretation; as for the psychoanalyzed patient, the more he or she thinks about his or her next session, or the preceding one, the better a subject he or she is.”[9]
The psychotic era of involuntary, pretraced, presignified given strata of subjectification “carries desire to such a point of excess and unloosening that it must either annihilate itself in a black hole or change planes.”[10] When this “black hole of involuntary memory”[11] is reterritorialized as a form of pretraced memory, that is, as an organism, the subject becomes un-diagrammatically one with, in the sense of its voluntary submission (sealing the lines of flight or exits to creations), the pure untamed vitality of chaos that “undoes every consistency”[12] in the sense of impatiently “emptying [oneself] of [one’s] organs instead of looking for a point (a line of flight by means of diagramming) at which [one] could patiently and momentarily dismantle the organization of the organs we call organism.”[13]
Deleuze and Guattari unequivocally warn against this kind of subjectification that risks “[dragging itself] toward catastrophe” by “not taking precautions”:
Staying stratified—organized, signified, subjected—is not the worst that can happen; the worst that can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse, which brings them back down on us heavier than ever. This is how it should be done: Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous plane on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment….Connect, conjugate, continue…[14]
As François Zourabichvili suggests in his commentary on Deleuze, staying stratified can amount to being “coextensive with oneself” in a manner that has since Descartes takes subjectification as a reflection of “autonomous and pre-existent inner life” as well as the “external reality” it reflects in the form of reterritorialized subjectivity.[15] But if Zourabichvili later speaks of a process of becoming “when the subject is no longer coextensive with itself[16] the rhetoric changes its effects. If we can juxtapose this process of becoming to the Lacanian notion of extimacy where, in an analytic situation, “the analysand at the end of his trajectory attains the question of being,”[17] at the same time that “the analysand finds there his or her entry into … the analyst’s discourse,”[18] his or her entry into the “analytic solitude… into a breach… where he or she is supposed to remain” [19] as a consequence of the paradox of psychoanalytic practice, then it is not so difficult to see that the question of being is either one of living in a permanent liminal landscape or that which offers a way out of the landscape in terms of becoming another subject, that is, as reterritorialized in the analyst.”[20] Against the whole analytic process itself Zourabichvili offers the following words: “the subjective form is inadequate when faced with the unformedness of becoming.” [21]
The kind of reterritorialization we spoke of concerning the analyst is best described in the following observations by Pierre-Gilles Guégen, commenting on Jacques Lacan’s Seminar XVII, by relating the “question of being” to the Lacanian notion of extimacy:
From this perspective, extimacy refers to the analyst after analysis, no longer the placeholder of the Other that lacks, but as the positive remainder of the analytic operation. In other words, extimacy refers to the manner in which the analyst has been the partner of the drive.”[22]
The “analyst discourse” into which the “analysand finds his or her point of entry” after analysis is precisely where the analysand, having lost the analyst as a placeholder of the Other, is introduced not only into the question of being but also of the competence of the analyst who has pushed the analytic situation into that of a realization on the part of the analysand that the analyst is neither the Other that lacks nor does he possess the Other’s desire. The analysand is caught in a limbo after analysis but fortunately finds a point of entry, perhaps, an escape from the analytic situation which legitimates his liminal existence in the first place, into the difficult paradoxical situation of the analyst stripped of the trappings of the Other. Guégen adds:
The Analyst of the School, once appointed, sees an open door leading onto a tightrope: ‘Will he be up to the task, or will he take a false step? Will he know how to tread the path? Here, experience is of no avail, but nothing can be done without having previously benefited from the accomplishment of an analysis and from the training that follows in its wake. How will he be able to walk the tightrope? As Lacan stressed, “It is not sufficient for a duty to be self-evident for it to be fulfilled?”[23]
We can easily relate Zourabichvili’s notion of unformedness to the Lacanian psychotic era. As an “inter-assemblage” of “lines of impoverishment and fixation,” Lacan’s psychotic era describes the “closure of the assemblage” itself, what could precisely create “states of inhibitions” that can “release crossroads behaviours,” unable to procure “an opening into consistency” where, as Deleuze and Guattari originally suggest, “blackholes resonate together or inhibitions conjugate and echo each other.”[24]
[END]
NB: In our next post (which may take some time after this one as I am currently engaged in completing a number of research papers) I will relate this Deleuzean concept of resonating blackholes to OOO’s obsession with objects, units, etc. Simply put, the logic of OOO is implicated in the kind of schema (subject-object) that Deleuze and Guattari sought to overcome. Despite its emphasis on objectality, OOO is still very much a part of this schema.
Also, there are quite a number of interesting discussions on the blogosphere on, among others, to what extent psychoanalysis can be utilized to advance the logic of OOO. This post is in part a response to this aspect of psychoanalysis.
Levi Bryant’s recent post deserves a fair hearing; see http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/questions-about-epicureanism-the-borromean-knot-again/ but also Terence Blake’s criticism of Bryant at http://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/a-quick-response-to-an-impatient-and-unruly-questioner-my-preliminary-response-to-levi-bryants-questions/ which started at R.S. Bakker’s post; see http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/the-ptolemaic-restoration-object-oriented-whatevery-and-kants-copernican-revolution/ .
Meanwhile, Steven Hickman has written a number of excellent posts on psychoanalysis, particularly its Zizekean intonations, most recent is this post– http://darkecologies.com/2013/03/15/alenka-zupancic-quote-of-the-day/
Though I differ with his position on Deleuze’s relation to Lacanian psychoanalysis, I recommend Cengiz Erdem’s recent foray into psychoanalysis in relation to Deleuze. See his post: http://cengizerdem.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/melancholia-and-the-cartesian-subject/
Also check out a recent discussion of the limitations of OOO, in part, as I see it, questioning Levi Bryant’s deployment of psychoanalysis to articulate a new OOO perspective. See his post http://supposednone.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-failure-of-ooo/

Notes

[1] See Charles Stivale, “Appendix: ‘How Do We Recognize Structuralism’,” in The Two-Fold Thought of Deleuze and Guattari: Intersections and Animations (New York and London: The Guilford Press, 1998), 263.
[2] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, vol. 1, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 304.
[3] See Teresa Brennan, History After Lacan (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), 4.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 7.
[6] Ibid., 136.
[7] Ibid., 78.
[8] Ibid., 131.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid., 134.
[11] Ibid., 186.
[12] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 42.
[13] Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 161.
[14] Ibid.
[15] See François Zourabichvili, “Six Notes on the Percept (On the Relation Between the Critical and the Clinical),” in Deleuze: A Critical Reader, ed. Paul Patton (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1996), 196.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid., 200.
[18] See Piere-Gilles Guégen, “The Intimate, the Extimate and Psychoanalytic Discourse,” in Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis: Reflections on Seminar XVII, ed. Justin Clemens and Russell Grigg (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006), 271.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Zourabichvili, “Six Notes on the Percept,” in Deleuze: A Critical Reader, 196. Ibid., 272.
[22] Guégen, “The Intimate, the Extimate and Psychoanalytic Discourse,” in Jacques Lacan and the Other Side of Psychoanalysis: Reflections on Seminar XVII, 271.
[23] Ibid., 272.
[24] All quotes are from Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 334.

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